What you Need To Know

Opinions expressed in my articles are my own, and opinions in the articles and comments section written by others are strictly those of the author or commenter and not me.

Please be civil, it adds nothing to the conversation to engage in name-calling.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

When Is Congress Going To Fund The VA?

Both the Senate and the House have passed bills to provide funding and "fixes" to the recent messes exposed by the recent scandal at the Phoenix VA.  Both bills are now sitting in the joint committee charged with reconciling the two bills in order to send a single one to the President for his signature.  So what's the hold-up?  Why money of course!  What else?

The Senate bill is estimated at about $38 billion, and the House bill at about $44 billion.  However, the CBO says the actual cost could reach closer to $50.  The Teabaggers in the House want to get the cost down closer to $26 billion and are insisting on offsets for the entire thing anyway.  Of course they would really like it if the thing didn't cost any money at all.  And there are the usual group of nuts screaming for privatization - as if that would be cheaper (it would NOT!)

My question is - where were all these cheapskates when they were voting for all the war supplementals?  You know the ones, $70 billion here, $80 billion there, off budget all, and nary a one with a single offset?  All for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that created all these veterans who now need all the care in the VA?

Why don't all these idiots realize that when you send people off to wars that caring for those soldiers IS a part of the cost of those wars?  That all of the amputations, and the PTSD and the huge burns and the other major shrapnel wounds and traumatic brain injuries that are the signature injuries of these two wars require care that extends for years and sometimes, often for life?  And yes, that when you promise these soldiers that when they come home you will take care of them - that you better well do it!

All vets don't use the VA system.  IF, when they get out of the military, they can find a good job with good benefits, they generally will use the private medical system.  It's easier to access, closer to home in most cases, and less of a hassle.  And even if they do use the VA, the VA bills their private insurance as the primary payer so the VA recovers the cost.  Pretty good deal for the US Taxpayer, right!

But here's the kicker.  Vets from these two wars have a really high unemployment rate.  One reason is because they are discriminated against as some employers are afraid of them.  Because of the PTSD/TBI.  They think the vets are going to show up with a gun and start shooting up the place.  So they won't hire vets.  It used to be a point of pride to hire veterans - not now.  Not these soldiers.  Too many deployments.  Too many horror stories.  The signature war wound is a mental one - a scary one.

So I guess the real question is not really when is Congress going to fund the VA - it is actually when is Congress going to do something about the exorbitant cost of medical school?  Because what we really have is a shortage of primary care doctors - not just in the VA but everywhere in the system.  And the passage and implementation of the ACA is only going to make that more abundantly clear in the months ahead.  But that's a discussion for another day.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Just What Are Hobby Lobby's "Sincerely Held Beliefs?"

On the eve of the SCOTUS' stunning decision that apparently corporations now have the same religious rights as individuals, I am at a loss to describe all the gigantic holes that were left by the gang of five in this unreasoned and ridiculous pronouncement.

First, apparently, only some corporations are eligible for this religious test.  You have to belong to only certain kinds of religions.  The Jehovah's Witnesses and the Amish were singled out as not being the correct kinds of religions specifically.  And I am sure there will be more (I'm looking at you Muslims!)  Or any other kind of 'exotic' non-christian types.

Second, the type of corporation makes a difference.  But that's a smallish problem since the 'closely-held' type they specified covers almost 90% of workers in the US today.  So they did get to the majority of the workforce.  Nice shot!

But here is the best one of all - there was no examination of the 'sincerely held beliefs'.  The two plaintiffs in the case BELIEVE that the four drugs and one device named in the suit cause abortions.  THEY DO NOT! This is a scientific matter, not a matter of belief.  Birth control pills prevent ovulation from taking place the same way a pregnancy does.  An IUD prevents an egg from being fertilized.  These are not abortions.

In any case, Hobby Lobby, the lead plaintiff, holds stock in companies that manufacture devices and drugs that are used in ACTUAL ABORTIONS!  Yes, you heard that correctly!  So the fact that Hobby Lobby's owners' sincerely held beliefs regarding the abortion issue was not examined is a big deal.  And they do NOT have any.

This whole case was about Obamacare and was totally political.  Hobby Lobby has been providing contraceptive coverage under its healthcare policies in California and in many other states for over 15 years as mandated by those states - just like the ACA mandate for contraceptive coverage.  And they have been doing so without a peep for all that time.  It is only because these people hate Barack Obama so much that it even became an issue.

"Sincerely Held Beliefs?"  Yeah - the only sincerely held beliefs they hold are that they hate this President and will do anything they can to undermine, disrespect, and destroy his agenda and programs that they can.


Monday, June 23, 2014

What's Up?

Been a while since I've been on here - had some serious health issues to deal with - had 4-way coronary bypass surgery and then had a heart attack. I know that's kind of backwards but that's me - always doing things the hard way!  Had to take a good look at my life and take a little slow down for a while.  Learn to breathe, learn to say no.

I've also moved in with my elderly mother, and am watching her decline.  Her health is not exactly poor, but she is ready to move on.  I'm not quite ready yet though, and that's hard for her and hard for me too.  So we are here together making what we can of these last days and weeks together.  We watch all the news and rail together against the stupid politicians in Washington, and here in Montana.  We cheer for our heroes in life and wherever we can find them.  We cry over the downtrodden and miserable together.  We eat wonderful meals together because that is the one pleasure we do not deny ourselves.

Mom naps a lot. My cat has transferred a lot of her affection to my mom (she is not a very affectionate cat!) and that is perfectly okay with me.  So my cat naps in her lap.  I sew or knit while they both nap.  Or I nap too.

I finally have felt like I wanted to start writing again - so here I am - back again.

So....that's what's up for now.  I plan on trying to write about once per week.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Why I Voted Republican In The Primary This Year...

Montana has an open primary. I have never voted in the Republican primary before. Ever. Never even considered it. Ever. So why did I vote in the Republican primary this year? Well, lots of reasons.

This year is a really unusual one. Citizens United for one. I don't even want to get started on that democracy destroying piece of judicial activism. So I won't.

Then there is the usual hue and cry over voter fraud by the Republicans. This is a total red herring - its true aim is to disenfranchise huge numbers of mostly democratic voters - the elderly, the young - mostly college students, and the poor. All these demographic groups disproportionately vote Democratic. What nice targets they make since they also disproportionately don't have government-issued ID either. Various estimates I have seen have listed upwards of three million people who voted in 2008 may not be allowed to vote in 2012 because of these new laws. This is nuts. Lots of these people have voting cards from the last election indicating that they were valid voters! But that's not good enough now.

Here locally, we had another little thing. The local Democratic party ran an advertisement seeking people to fill its precinct captain slots. Several prominent Republicans signed up to run. When challenged about this - they all played dumb and tried to claim that they weren't really Republicans even though one of them was the GOP Party finance chair, and another had previously been a GOP statewide office holder. It was interesting though - the backlash got good Democratic candidates for all of the precinct captain positions out and running campaigns - especially in the precincts that had these Republican 'trojan horses' in them.

And of course, there was our last legislative session. Instead of being about "jobs jobs jobs", the Republican led legislature spent its (mercifully short) session trying to overturn voter initiatives that had been passed not once but twice banning cyanide leach heap mining in the state. Trying to overturn Missoula's anti-discrimination ordinance that prevented job and housing discrimination against gay and transgender individuals. Trying to overturn the voter initiative for medical marijuana. And on and on and on. It got so bad that our Democratic Governor went out and registered a brand - had branding irons made up, and staged a photo op at the end of the session where he "branded" vetos on all this ridiculous legislation they had passed. Oh, and they barely got the budget done at the last minute because they had spent so much time on all this other foolishness.

Sooooo.....,.,.,I was sitting here with my two ballots. (I always vote absentee - I like having the time to really think about who I am voting for, having the time to research the candidates, and I like my paper ballot) I looked at the Democratic one. Most of the candidates were running unopposed. Or the candidates I preferred were running way ahead in the polls if there was a contested race. Then I looked at the Republican ballot. Wow! Now there was an opportunity! There were seven candidates running for governor. Three for the open US Representative seat. Two for the US Senate Seat. Four for Secretary of State. Three for Attorney General. Aha! I could vote in this one and really make an influence here.

In the race for governor/lt governor, I made the choice to vote for one of the lesser candidates rather than the two guys who were leading in the polls. I figured that voting for one of the lesser candidates would just split the race further and make it harder for them to declare a winner. The Democratic candidate, Steve Bullock, is very popular and is our current Attorney General, and is very likely to beat whatever Republican emerges from this pack of idiots anyway.

In the race for attorney general, not much separated the three of them. They were almost carbon copies of each other, all spouting RNC talking points. Hmmm. Throw a dart?

For secretary of state, I chose the guy with the least amount of experience - and he was the only one of the four who DIDN'T want to overturn our same-day voter registration law. That must make the rest of them mad at him so that's why I chose him.

Now we get to the two national races. This is a horse of a different color. Montana is considered a "red" state, even though both of our Senators are Democrats (they are both blue dogs however), and our Governor and several of our other elected officials are as well. Our at-large US Representative, Dennis Rehberg is a Republican though, and he has been in office for 16 years. He is leaving the House to run against Senator Tester, a first-term Senator who beat out a Republican incumbent by only 3000 votes.

In the US Senate race, Denny Rehberg is being primaried by a guy who has no money and zero name recognition. In fact, I think he has literally stopped campaigning because he has run out of money. I voted for him anyway. Rehberg has a war chest of about $3.4 million - and is beholden to every special interest group out there. He is formidible - however he has made some serious gaffes out there which will hurt him - and are. Recent polling shows Tester with a 5-point lead for the first time. Yay!

In the US House race, 3 Republican candidates are running, and 6 Democrats are running in this primary. On the Democratic side, Kim Gillan, my preferred candidate is polling well, has a good amount of money, and has been campaigning hard all over the state so she has good name recognition - a difficult feat in this geographically huge state with its sparse population. I think she will do well. However, with the states normal conservative bent, I felt I needed to be a little more careful with my vote here.

Of the three Republican candidates here were my choices: A 57-year-old from Connecticut who thinks Star Wars is the answer to all of our problems. A former marine who is currently a student in Colorado who thinks that some combination of Grover Norquist/Ayn Rand/Ron Paul economics is just what we need. A businessman who has lived and built a business in Bozeman who wants to eliminate just about every form of tax there is and half of the cabinet positions and the IRS except for defense of course but with no plan to pay for any of that but was totally incoherent because he wanted to eliminate the income tax on the one hand but institute a flat tax on the other. Whuh?

Yeah. And faced with the real possibility that one of these nuts might just wind up being the actual US Representative from the great State of Montana, I thought, gee - I better choose well here. So, I chose the Star Wars guy. Because of all the nuts - he was the least nuts. Yeah I know he just moved here. But that guy from Bozeman is a freak six ways from breakfast. And that other guy isn't even here NOW!

There. I'm done. Now I need a big, stiff drink. I cannot believe I did that. I also need a bath in some decontamination stuff, brain bleach, and eyewash! Shudder!

It was fun!

Oh, I forgot - I got to choose which nutbag to vote for in the Presidential election too. I chose between Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and of course, Mitt Romney. At first, I wavered between Newt and Rick. But even though I really think that Ron Paul is really dangerous - I also like the idea that he has been collecting a huge amount of delegates behind everyones back and that although Mitt thinks he has the nomination sewed up, Ron Paul just might throw a hugh monkey wrench into that little scenario. The PTB will never let Ron Paul be the nominee. Jes' sayin'. So I voted for Ron Paul. Throw that monkey wrench!!!

There! Hope you all voted too. I know it's hard - but if you don't vote - you don't get to complain after!!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Someone Sent Me Some Spam Email, So Why Am I The One Feeling Bad?

My friend sent me an email with the subject line "Important!". She's my friend so I opened it of course. It was one of those emails about some supposed massive threat to my computer about a virus that was going to destroy my life as I know it and eat my computer and the desk it sits on and probably my house too and oh by the way snopes.com said it was true and yadda yadda yadda.

So, of course, being me, I clicked on the link for snopes.com just to see what they said. Well, whaddya know. Snopes.com said it was a cross between a Hoax and a bunch of out-of-date information. Seems that once upon a time (a couple of years ago) there was a virus, but as you can well imagine, all the wonderful anti-virus people out there of course wrote an anti-virus program to take care of it almost as soon as it appeared. The link that you had to click on to actually get this virus has been disabled. Long time ago. And yes - you had to actually click on a link to get it.

The hoax part is that this thing has just recently appeared again and is being passed around the internet as if it is a real threat right now - today.

So now I have wasted five minutes reading the dumb thing, and reading the article on Snopes.com. I am mad that my friend has wasted my time sending this thing to me and every single other person in her address book and that they also have had to either take the time to do what I did - or if they didn't - just grabbed their address books and passed it along without checking to everyone they know - inflicting the thing on countless other people to waste their time on.

So I hit REPLY ALL. I wrote back that it was a Hoax and that if someone had just looked at Snopes.com like I did they would have realized that it was a hoax and for everyone to just stop passing it on!

So now my friend is mad at ME! She's mad that I am mad about this email. She's mad that I replied to all her friends.

So now why do I feel bad? She's the one who sent the stupid thing to ME in the first place!

These crap emails waste so much of the entire nation's collective time - forwarding them. Compiling address lists of all our friends to send them to. More groups of people opening and reading them because of course, they are from our friends so we don't just delete them! Every time, five minutes here, five minutes there. It keeps adding up. We all don't have enough time as it is in our lives for the things that do really matter whether it is our family, our work, our spiritual pursuits or whatever. Then we have to lose those precious minutes on this kind of junk mail. And when we find out that it really is just junk mail and react badly to it - our friends who sent it to us in the first place, and wasted our time with it in the first place, want US to feel bad?

And the really crap part of it is that I do. And I don't know why. So now I am mad too.

GRRRRRR! Whoever starts this stuff - I hate YOU!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What About The Infrastructure?

A couple of weeks ago on the news it was reported that sales of the much-touted Chevy Volt were lagging far behind expectations. Many reasons were cited for the failure of the public to accept this "all electric" car even though supposedly it is supposed to 'save the planet' and 'get us off foreign oil' and all that.

But here's my take on it. First of all - the car only goes 40 miles before it needs to be recharged. GM says well - that's because the average person only drives 40 miles for commuting and so forth on a daily basis for commuting. So what's the problem. After that the car has a gasoline engine that can take over and drive the rest of the way.

Well, here's the problem. That 40 miles is an average. That means that lots of people have a more that 40-mile commute. And so they actually drive the car using the gasoline engine as much or maybe more than they do using the electric one. To commute back and forth to work. Kind of defeats the purpose.

And then there are the weekends. And the extended business trips. Or whatever. When you get where you are going - there is no place to plug the thing in. No plug-in places at any hotels or motels. No plug in places at restaurants. Or amusement parks. Or any other tourist attractions. Or at gas stations. Or at a parking meter. Or anywhere else for that matter. In other words - no infrastructure.

Plus the car costs $40,000!

It is kind of hard to justify paying a premium price for a vehicle that is tethered to your garage. If we are going to expect people to get on the "all electric vehicle" bandwagon - we have to commit to the infrastructure to support them. And that means plug-in refueling stations at all the places I just mentioned - restaurant parking lots, hotels and motels, parking meters, tourist destinations, convention centers, anyplace where people go. This stuff must precede the car sales - otherwise there will be no car sales. GM (and Nissan) cannot be expected to continue to produce all-electric vehicles if they are not selling. And customers cannot be expected to buy these cars if there is no infrastructure to support them. Simple as that. Nothing else matters.

It's the infrastructure - stupid!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Why Are Men So Afraid of Women?

I just read an excellent piece by Sara Robinson at Alternet on this topic: Why Patriarchal Men Are Utterly Petrified of Birth Control -- And Why We'll Still Be Fighting About it 100 Years From Now

(You should go read her entire piece - it is fascinating. She is one of my favorite writers - she is described as a futurist and an excellent one indeed!)

The crux of the matter is that men are basically afraid. (Not every single man - I am generalizing here I know. My apologies to the good guys!) Things have changed because of birth control (yeah I know, that was 50 years ago) and they don't like it and they want to change it back to the way things were BBC. (Before Birth Control) They liked it when they were in charge and women were barefoot and pregnant. They liked it when women had no say over their own bodies. Or their own finances, jobs, careers, lifestyles, or almost anything else. They liked it when women were around for one purpose and one purpose only - having and raising kids. And that's it.

And here's what they just don't get. Women aren't going to go back. So yes. There is going to be a fight. And it's going to be long. And probably bloody. But it has to be fought. Because we cannot be a fair and just society if half of the people in it are not allowed to have a say in how they are treated, in how they will live their lives, in how and when or if they choose to have and raise children.

I have heard the comments that "women were penetrated when they got pregnant, and they will be penetrated again to have the abortion, so why are they objecting to being penetrated for the transvaginal ultrasound?" It's a little matter of consent, dammit! Unless the woman was raped in the first place, she consented to the sex. If she wants an abortion, she is obviously consenting to that. But these government-sponsored, non-medically necessary transvaginal ultrasounds? That she has not, and does not, consent to. And under the law, non-consent to penetration of any sort, IS rape!

And then we have the spectacle of a bunch of men wearing dresses (the Catholic bishops) pronouncing that birth control for all women in this country should not be a part of any health care insurance because they object. Never mind that not everyone in this country is a member of the Catholic faith. And never mind that 98 percent of Catholic women use or have used birth control in the face of their own church teaching. And never mind that these guys are the ones who have molested and/or covered up for molesting priests for decades - not just in this country but everywhere. Yup. We should all listen to them!

No, women will not go back. And yes, women will fight back. In Virginia, a coalition of womens advocacy groups has formed a new PAC The Womens Strike Force. The name kind of says it all! Check out their website. I hope more of these happen in every state! We need them.

And all you men out there - stop being so afraid! Women just want to be your partners. Women being able to make decisions doesn't take anything away from you - it makes all of us stronger. When women are 'equal', everyone wins - including all you men! Real men understand this and are cheering their strong women on - their mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, and friends. So buck up guys! Stop treating women like moronic little kids. Accept that women are perfectly capable of making decisions about their lives and bodies - just like you! And we'll all be better for it.